It’s annoying and frustrating to see your gas water heater’s pilot light flame extinguish. When your water heater’s pilot light fails to stay lit, you have no hot water at your disposal, making even the most basic tasks like showering inconvenient. This leaves many people wondering how to light a hot water heater.
A pilot light can go out for various reasons other than equipment failure, such as sudden changes in gas pressure. The good news is, you can relight your heater’s pilot yourself. In this post, we’ll look at why your pilot light switches off and how to fix it.
What Is a Pilot Light?
The pilot light is the heart of your water heater. It’s a modest flame in gas-powered equipment such as your water heater, furnace, and gas fireplace.
Gases are released to the primary burner when you switch on your appliance, and the pilot light burns that gas to turn it on and generate heat. Without this light, there would be no heat or warm water.
Why Does Your Water Heater Light Keep Going Out?
There ca be many reasons why the pilot light is not working. Let’s look into five possible reasons why the pilot light keeps going out:
Insufficiency of Combustible Gases
The pilot light on your gas water heater won’t remain lit if there isn’t enough combustible air. So how do you increase the amount of combustible air? The easiest way is to ensure the water heater is not surrounded by lint, clutter, or dirt.
Issues with Flex Tubes
The flex tube is a long tube that connects the gas regulator to the burner, where the thermocouple and pilot light, among other components, are housed. A broken or clogged flex tube will block gas flow to the burner.
Your thermocouple will detect if your pilot light is on. The thermocouple’s tip is placed on the pilot flame and generates a voltage, keeping the gas valve open. The thermocouple will shut off the gas flow to the heater if it detects that the pilot light on your water heater has gone out.
Main Control Valve Issues
The pilot light won’t stay on if there’s a defective control valve. Since this is a less common problem, you must rule out other options before concluding the problem is with the main control.
Flaws in Electrical System
Electrical system issues arise mainly due to faulty internal wiring. A faulty wired electric water heater is prone to shorting circuits and blowing fuses, two of the most common problems with electric water heaters.
How to Light a Hot Water Heater
If your pilot light is out, you’ll notice cold water running out of your hot water valves. Follow these six simple steps to relight the hot water heater pilot light:
Step 1: Determine Whether You Have a Manual or Automatic Hot Water Heater
You must know the kind of water heater you’re using. Examine the silver box that sticks from the side of your hot water heater to determine the brand. Detailed instruction manuals for your specific model may be available, and they can assist you with relighting the pilot for your water heater.
Step 2: Turn the Gas Off
The next step is to turn off the gas. Find the gas regulator valve on the gas line near the base of the hot water heater. Turn the valve to “off” and give it at least five to six minutes for any residual gas to disperse.
Step 3: Find the Pilot Light
Make sure to turn on the pilot light. This step will most likely necessitate the use of a flashlight. You can find the pilot light under the water tank.
Take note that you’ll have to unscrew the access panel to access it. If you see a flame at the tip of this pipe, the pilot light is on. Otherwise, it’s off.
Step 4: Push Down the Gas Valve and Set It to the “Pilot” Setting
You can relight the hot water heater light once you’re confident there are no gas leaks in the water heater unit. Tap and hold the reset valve in the “pilot” mode.
If your heater has a different button, it will most likely be red and marked “pilot.” You can also look for instructions on your unit that will assist you in finding the valves and buttons needed to relight your hot water heater light.
Step 5: Light the Pilot Burner
The water heater will have a red or black button marked “ignition.” Your pilot light will re-ignite if you press this button. Once done, you’ll hear a slight “click” sound.
If you have a manual or older model, you may need to give a spark to relight the pilot light. Using a long lighter, such as those used to light grills, is the safest way to do this.
CAUTION: Don’t use a cigarette lighter or match to relight the pilot light, as it increases the risk of burning yourself.
Step 6: Check Whether the Flame and Heater Is On
Maintain the regulator valve for at least a few minutes after lighting the pilot light, allowing the thermocouple detector to reheat. If your light goes out, this sensor detects it and turns off your water heater if it gets too cold.
Slowly remove the regulator valve after a minute and check if the pilot light is still glowing. If this is the case, turn on the regulator valve. You’ll hear a whooshing sound, indicating that the main burner has re-ignited. After this, your pilot light should be ready to use.
If you follow these simple instructions, you’ll understand how to light a hot water heater safely. The pilot light is a modest light that does a critical job by ensuring you have plenty of heated water for cleaning and other household chores.
It’s crucial to perform the necessary cleaning, annual maintenance and examinations on it, just like any other home equipment, to keep it healthy and robust. If you’re still unsure what you’re doing or don’t know how your model works, reach out to a specialist.
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